Literacy Curriculum

The Lower School Literacy Curriculum cultivates imaginative, critical, and thoughtful speakers and listeners, readers and writers. A reading workshop approach ensures that every child is appropriately challenged and guided through individual, small-group and all-class lessons.

Reading seminars, guided reading books, Junior Great Books, class novels, picture books and countless other sources allow teachers to address the particular reading needs of their students and to inspire them to think broadly in a variety of ways on a range of topics.

Strong emphasis is placed on expression through writing, engaging our students as writers of stories, response journals, poems, narratives, expository pieces and as scientific reporters. From the start, students are taught the skills and process of writing, learning to draft, revise, edit and publish their own work. The Lucy Calkins Writing Project provides the framework for our writing instruction and the writers’ workshop approach.

Grade Level Literacy Units

List of 7 items.

  • Junior Kindergarten

    Junior Kindergarten Narrative Scope & Sequence: Literacy

    Junior Kindergarten is an exciting year for reading and writing in that students learn structures, procedures, and routines that lay the foundation for their literacy journey at the Lower School. While the content of the curriculum is certainly different in Junior Kindergarten than it is in higher grades, the methodology and the delivery of instruction remain consistent from one year to the next. Within a Balanced Literacy model, the structure for both Reading and Writing Workshop is as follows:

    Minilessons: Minilessons are focused and direct. They include one teaching point that is explicitly modeled and demonstrated. Children have an opportunity to explore and discuss the introduced strategy with their classmates before transferring it to their independent work.

    Independent Reading or Writing: Students have opportunities to practice reading or writing independently as they learn new skills within any particular genre of study. For example, teachers may place various nonfiction books in a central bin during a unit devoted to nonfiction so that students have a chance to explore the genre on their own. During these independent work times, teachers bounce around the room, individually conferring with students and providing support wherever needed.

    Partner/Teacher Conferences: Students have daily opportunities to meet with the teacher one-on-one to work on ways to improve their reading or writing skills. At the Junior Kindergarten level, conferences are always supportive in nature and are meant to boost students’ motivation and confidence for reading and writing.

    Regardless of the unit of study, teachers provide occasions for students to be engaged in whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction, and independent practice. Following are descriptions of some of the components used throughout each unit of study:

    Word Study in Junior Kindergarten

    As students begin to make sense of language and print in Junior Kindergarten, teachers introduce Words Their Way, a word study curriculum used at each grade level at the Lower School. This program utilizes various methods to help students make discoveries and generalizations about spelling. Word sorting is one of the fundamental elements of the curriculum and can be described as the process of grouping sounds, words, and pictures into specific categories. At the Junior Kindergarten level, most of the word sorting completed focuses on vocabulary development through concept sorts, alphabet knowledge, awareness of sounds, and the concept of words. With any new sort, the teacher directly and explicitly demonstrates the concept for the students. Students then independently practice using their word study concept in a variety of weekly activities that remain consistent throughout the year. This practice provides them with a foundation of word knowledge and also prepares them for the more sophisticated word study work they will do in later grades.

    Centers/Small Group Work in Junior Kindergarten

    A portion of the morning in Junior Kindergarten is spent in small-group centers, where students have opportunities to practice reading, writing, handwriting, and spelling. While some centers tend to be independent in nature (e.g., book browse), others require teacher direction (e.g., word study) and only occur when either the classroom teacher or the classroom aide is available to sit with the students to at as a coach. In each of the centers, book genres or concepts may change from week to week but the overall guidelines of each center remain static. The bulk of literacy centers in Junior Kindergarten are organized to expose students to various activities and to provide ample time for students to explore language and print. More than anything, centers are meant to instill in the students confidence and enthusiasm for reading and writing.

    While not all students learn to read conventionally in Junior Kindergarten, teachers provide differentiated Reading Group time to give students the skills and strategies they need to become successful readers. At any time, one reading group may be working on directionality of print and the turning of pages while another may be working on word-attack strategies (e.g., “Look at the picture”) and ending punctuation. Because instruction is targeted to meet the needs of each individual learner, students progress at their own pace with the support of the teacher.

    Independent Reading

    During independent reading times, students have the opportunity to browse books within the classroom library. As teachers get to know each student’s particular reading habits, they make book suggestions and encourage students to make appropriate selections for themselves as well. With time to explore and investigate, students are able to discover favorite books, authors, and sometimes even genres, and they are encouraged to share their findings with their classmates and teacher.

    Another important goal for the Independent Reading time is to build students’ stamina for reading. Over the course of the year, Junior Kindergarten teachers encourage students to maintain focus while reading for longer and longer stretches of time.

    Read-Aloud

    In addition to the books used specifically for the Reading Workshop, teachers read numerous books throughout the school day. Often, read-alouds pertain to the weather, season, or a nearby holiday. Other times, they are chosen to support an interest or question that has come up in class. While meaningful discussions certainly come out of these read-aloud times, the principal purpose of reading aloud to the students so often is that it boosts motivation for, and a greater interest in, reading.   

    Handwriting Without Tears

    Handwriting Without Tears, the handwriting program used at the Junior Kindergarten level, teaches students the capital and lowercase letter recognition skills they will need to be successful writers. The shapes, pre-strokes, letters, and numbers are introduced in a developmental learning sequence, and the approach is multisensory in that it teaches to all learning styles. In other words, students have opportunities to learn handwriting in visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic ways. The practice they are given in Junior Kindergarten allows these students to develop excellent printing habits and skills for the future.

    Zoo Phonics

    Zoo Phonics is an essential ingredient in the Junior Kindergarten curriculum. It is a program that teaches students the appropriate sounds for each letter of the alphabet in a fun and stress-free environment. Students learn to associate the configuration of a letter with the picture of an animal (e.g., a snake slithers down the entire letter “s”). They also learn that the initial sound heard in the animal’s name is the same sound that the letter makes. With each letter, students are also taught a body movement that helps cement the phonemic information into memory. As the students get to know the animals connected to each letter, these critters become useful tools for the students to use in reading, spelling and writing.

    Junior Kindergarten Units of Study include:

    Reading:
    • Building a Community of Readers
    • Wordless Books
    • Environmental Print
    • Books with Lists and Labels
    • Exploring Patterns in Books
    • Introduction to Nonfiction
    • Fiction: Character Study
    • Fiction: Theme-Courage and Friendship
    Writing:
    • Getting Ready for Writing
    • Building a Community of Writers
    • Launching the Writing Workshop
    • Writing Stories from our Lives
    • Sequencing events Across the Pages
    • Writing Nonfiction: “Expert” Topics, Writing About What They Know


  • Senior Kindergarten

    Senior Kindergarten Narrative Scope & Sequence: Literacy

    Essential Understandings:
    • Students will understand the relationship of sounds, letters and words.
    • Students will read, understand and respond to simple sentences and stories.
    • Students will listen critically and respond coherently and with confidence to others.
    • Students will speak and write independently with fundamental command of the English conventions.
    • Students will develop a love for reading and communication.

    In Senior Kindergarten, students build on the skills and strategies learned in Junior Kindergarten to expand their knowledge of reading and writing within a Balanced Literacy program. At every grade level, the content of the curriculum changes; however, the methodology and the delivery of the instruction remain the same. The structure for both Reading and Writing Workshop is as follows:

    Minilessons: Minilessons are focused and direct. They include one teaching point that is explicitly modeled and demonstrated. Children have an opportunity to explore and discuss the introduced strategy with their classmates before transferring it to their independent work.

    Independent Reading or Writing: Students have opportunities to read or write independently as they explore each genre of study. They are expected to try utilizing the skills and strategies taught in minilessons during their independent work times. The teacher uses independent times to confer with individual students.

    Partner/Teacher Conferences: Students have ample opportunities to meet with the teacher and their writing/reading partners to work on ways to improve their reading or writing skills. Sometimes these conferences are critiques meant to help the student make important changes. Other times, conferences are supportive in nature and help to boost motivation and confidence for reading and writing.

    In order to implement instruction for any given unit of study, teachers provide daily opportunities for students to be engaged in whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction, and independent practice. Following are descriptions of some of the components used throughout each unit of study:

    Word Study in Senior Kindergarten

    At the beginning of the year, teachers use the spelling inventory in Words Their Way to determine what children already know about letters and words. Organized by phonetic features (e.g., vowel teams, consonant blends) and systematized along a developmental continuum, this assessment allows teachers to ascertain what individual students need to learn next. The teacher uses the assessment results to arrange the students into 3-5 differentiated word study groups and, subsequently, begins meeting with these groups regularly to introduce new concepts. With any new sort, the teacher directly and explicitly demonstrates the concept for the students. Students then independently practice using their word study concept in a variety of weekly activities that remain consistent throughout the year. Students categorize words by concept, record concepts in word study notebooks, uncover additional words that fit the current concept, and test one another to ensure that the concept has been transferred to student writing before moving on to a new skill.  

    Super Sight Word Challenge

    Super Sight Word Challenge provides a motivating opportunity for students to memorize high frequency words. Much like a traditional spelling program, students receive differentiated word lists at the beginning of each week. Students are not, however, responsible for spelling the words on their lists at the end of the week. Rather, they are asked only to read the words on the list, as memorization of high frequency, non-phonetic words greatly enhances a child’s fluency. In order to move from one list to the next, students must accurately read at least four of the five words. If one word is missed, teachers will often move the student to the next level but will add the misread word to the top of the new list. This program encourages reading and meets the needs of the individual student.

    Centers/Small Group Work in Senior Kindergarten

    A portion of the daily literacy block is spent in small-group centers, where students have opportunities to practice reading, writing, handwriting, and spelling independently or with a partner. While the book titles or page numbers within a center may change from week to week, the overall guidelines of each center remain static. Students become familiar with the expectations within the Poetry Center, for example, and are able to follow a set of consistent procedures as new poems are introduced each week. The bulk of the literacy centers in Senior Kindergarten are organized to expose students to various types of print and to provide ample time for students to read independently. More than anything else, centers such as Nonfiction, Poetry, and Author Study, for example, provide children with time to curl up with a book and practice reading.

    It is typically during Center time that Senior Kindergarten teachers pull students for Guided Reading groups. Groups are arranged by the classroom teacher and are generally organized in such a way to allow each student an opportunity to read alongside peers with similar reading habits. In reading groups, there is a shared focus between phonics and comprehension. The teacher uses small-group opportunities to incorporate phonics concepts embedded in the text and to focus on understanding the central ideas within the story. Reading Groups are also a time where teachers share and discuss comprehension and word-attack strategies. Because some students have difficulty participating in whole-group settings, Guided Reading group time allows these students a cozier atmosphere to take reading risks and to ask questions that will guide their understanding.


    CAFÉ

    Senior Kindergarten teachers use a program called CAFÉ to explicitly teach reading strategies within the context of each unit of study. CAFÉ is an acronym for comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and expanding vocabulary. Students learn to set goals for themselves as readers as they move through each component of the system, and are consistently expected to be aware of the multiple reading strategies available to them as they move from one strategy to the next.

    Independent Reading

    During independent reading times, students select “just right” books from a variety of genres as they begin to define their identities as readers in the classroom. Students discover favorite authors, favorite series, and favorite genres by discussing the books they read with their classmates and their teacher. Teachers typically use the Independent Reading time to individually confer or conduct informal reading inventories with students. It is during this time that word-attack and comprehension strategies are enforced and practiced so that students increasingly become more sophisticated readers.  

    Read-Aloud

    In addition to the books used specifically for the Reading Workshop, teachers read aloud numerous books throughout the school day. Often, read-alouds pertain to the weather, season, or a nearby holiday. Other times, they are chosen to support an interest or question that has come up in class. While meaningful discussions certainly come out of these read-aloud times, the principal purpose of reading aloud to the students so often is to boost motivation for, and a greater interest in, reading.

    Handwriting

    Building off of the instruction students received in Junior Kindergarten using the Handwriting Without Tears program, teachers continue to teach manuscript printing to Senior Kindergarten students. While students learn appropriate letter formation, there is also a phonetic element to this handwriting program. Teachers teach letter sounds and letter formation simultaneously, making the connection between the two explicit for the students.


    Senior Kindergarten Units of Study include:


    Reading:Writing:
    • Building a Community of Readers• Building a Community of Writers
    • What do we already know about reading?• Writing Small Moment Stories  
    • Examining Books with Patterns• Writing Conventions   
    • Fiction: Character Study • Post Office: Writing Letters
    • Author Study: Bill Peet• Why do writers write?
    • Studying Archetypes in Fiction• Response to Literature
    • Exploration of Nonfiction • Exploration of Nonfiction


  • Grade 1

    First Grade Narrative Scope & Sequence: Literacy

    In First Grade, students build on the skills and strategies learned in Senior Kindergarten to expand their knowledge of reading and writing within a Balanced Literacy program. At every grade level, the content of the curriculum changes; however, the methodology and the delivery of the instruction remain the same. The structure for both Reading and Writing Workshop is as follows:

    Minilessons: Minilessons are focused and direct. They include one teaching point that is explicitly modeled and demonstrated. Children have an opportunity to explore and discuss the introduced strategy with their classmates before transferring it to their independent work.

    Independent Reading or Writing: Students have opportunities to read or write independently as they explore each genre of study. They are expected to try utilizing the skills and strategies taught in minilessons during their independent work times. The teacher uses independent times to confer with individual students.

    Partner/Teacher Conferences: Students have ample opportunities to meet with the teacher and their writing/reading partners to work on ways to improve their reading or writing skills. Sometimes these conferences are critiques meant to help the student make important changes. Other times, conferences are supportive in nature and help to boost motivation and confidence for reading and writing.

    In order to implement instruction for any given unit of study, teachers provide daily opportunities for students to be engaged in whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction, and independent practice. Following are descriptions of some of the components used throughout each unit of study:

    Word Study in First Grade

    At the beginning of the year, teachers use the spelling inventory in Words Their Way to determine what children already know about letters and words. Organized by phonetic features (e.g. vowel teams, consonant blends) and systematized along a developmental continuum, this assessment allows teachers to ascertain what individual students need to learn next. The teacher uses the assessment results to arrange the students into 3-5 differentiated word study groups and, subsequently, begins meeting with these groups regularly to introduce new concepts. With any new sort, the teacher directly and explicitly demonstrates the concept for the students. Students then independently practice using their word study concept in a variety of weekly activities that remain consistent throughout the year. Students categorize words by concept, record concepts in word study notebooks, uncover additional words that fit the current concept, and test one another to ensure that the concept has been transferred to student writing before moving onto a new skill.  

    In addition to Words Their Way, First Grade teachers use high frequency word lists.Each first grader has a differentiated high frequency word list that students learn to read with automaticity. Teachers emphasize the importance of knowing these words by continually practicing spelling them and by adding them to the classroom Word Wall.




    Centers/Small Group Work in First Grade

    A portion of the daily literacy block is spent in small-group centers, where students have opportunities to practice reading, writing, handwriting, and spelling independently or with a partner. While the book titles or page numbers within a center may change from week to week, the overall guidelines of each center remain static. The bulk of the literacy centers in First Grade are organized to help students practice reading and writing.

    It is typically during Center time that First Grade teachers pull students for Guided Reading groups. Groups are arranged by the classroom teacher and are generally organized in such a way to allow each student an opportunity to read alongside peers with similar reading habits. In reading groups, there is a shared focus between phonics and comprehension. The teacher uses small-group opportunities to incorporate phonics concepts embedded in the text and to focus on understanding the central ideas within the story. Reading Groups are also a time where teachers share and discuss comprehension and word-attack strategies. Because some students have difficulty participating in whole-group settings, Guided Reading group time allows these students a cozier atmosphere to take reading risks and to ask questions that will guide their understanding.

    Independent Reading

    During independent reading times, students select “just right” books from a variety of genres as they continue to define their identities as readers in the classroom. Students discover favorite authors, favorite series, and favorite genres by discussing the books they read with their classmates and their teacher. Teachers typically use the Independent Reading time to individually confer or conduct informal reading inventories with students. It is during this time that word-attack and comprehension strategies are enforced and practiced so that students increasingly become more sophisticated readers.  

    Read Aloud

    In addition to picture book read-alouds used during the Reading Seminar, teachers read from a chapter book on a regular basis. Though meaningful discussions certainly come out of this read-aloud time, the principal purpose is to boost motivation for, and a greater interest in, reading.   

    First Grade Units of Study include:

    Reading:
    • Building Good Reading Habits
    • Learning About the World: Reading Nonfiction
    • Readers Have Big Jobs to Do: Fluency, Phonics & Comprehension
    • Meeting Characters and Learning Lessons: A Study of Story Elements
    Writing:
    • Small Moments/Narrative: Writing with Focus, Detail and Dialogue
    • Nonfiction Chapter Books/Informational
    • Writing Reviews/Opinion
    • From Scenes to Series/Narrative: Writing Fiction
  • Grade 2

    Second Grade Narrative Scope & Sequence: Literacy

    In Second Grade, students build on the skills and strategies learned in First Grade to expand their knowledge of reading and writing within a Balanced Literacy program. At every grade level, the content of the curriculum changes; however, the methodology and the delivery of the instruction remain the same. The structure for both Reading and Writing Workshop is as follows:

    Minilessons: Minilessons are focused and direct. They include one teaching point that is explicitly taught and then demonstrated. Children have an opportunity to explore and discuss the introduced strategy with their classmates before transferring it to their independent work.

    Independent Reading or Writing: Students have time to read or write independently as they explore the current genre of study. They are expected to try utilizing the skills and strategies taught in minilessons during their independent work times. The teacher uses independent times to confer with individual students.

    Partner/Teacher Conferences: Students have ample opportunities to meet with the teacher and their writing/reading partners to work on ways to improve their reading or writing. Sometimes these conferences are critiques meant to help the student make important changes. Other times, conferences are supportive in nature and help to boost motivation and confidence for reading and writing.

    In order to implement instruction for any given unit of study, teachers provide daily opportunities for students to be engaged in whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction, and independent practice. Following are descriptions of some of the components used throughout each unit of study:


    Word Study in Second Grade

    At the beginning of the year, teachers use the Spelling Inventory in Words Their Way to determine what children already know about letters and words. Organized by phonetic features (e.g., vowel teams, consonant blends) and systematized along a developmental continuum, this assessment allows teachers to then ascertain what individual students need to learn next. The teacher uses assessment results to arrange the students into 3-5 differentiated word study groups and, subsequently, begins meeting with these groups regularly to introduce new concepts. With any new sort, the teacher directly and explicitly demonstrates the concept for the students. Students then independently practice using their word study concept in a variety of weekly activities that remain consistent throughout the year. Students categorize words by concept, record concepts in word study notebooks, uncover additional words that fit the current concept, and test one another to ensure that the concept has been transferred to student writing before moving onto a new concept or skill.  

    In addition to Words Their Way, Second Grade teachers use Rebecca Sitton Spelling to introduce students to other types of language study. This program includes lessons, games, and activities using concepts such as idioms, homophones, contractions, and compound words. It also contains “No Excuse” lists at every grade level, which are essentially made up of high-frequency words that students should be able to read and write with automaticity. Teachers emphasize the importance of knowing these words by continually practicing spelling them and by adding them to the classroom Word Wall.


    Centers/Small Group Work in Second Grade

    A portion of the daily literacy block is spent in small-group centers, where students have opportunities to practice reading, writing, handwriting, and spelling independently or with a partner. While the book titles or page numbers within a center may change from week to week, the overall guidelines of each center remain static. Students become familiar with the expectations within the Word Study Center, for example, and are able to follow a set of consistent procedures as new words are introduced each week. The bulk of the literacy centers in Second Grade are organized to expose students to various types of print and to provide ample time for students to read independently. More than anything else, centers such as Nonfiction, Journal Writing, and Grammar, for example, provide children with time to practice reading and writing.

    It is typically during Center time that second grade teachers pull students for Guided Reading groups. Groups are arranged by the classroom teacher and are generally organized in such a way that each student has an opportunity to read alongside peers with similar reading habits. In reading groups, there is a shared focus between phonics and comprehension. The teacher uses small-group opportunities to incorporate phonics concepts embedded in the text and to focus on understanding the central ideas. Reading Groups are also a time where teachers share and discuss comprehension and word-attack strategies. Because some students have difficulty participating in whole-group settings, Guided Reading group time allows these students a cozier atmosphere to take reading risks and to ask questions that will guide their understanding.


    Independent Reading

    During independent reading times, students select “just right” books from a variety of genres as they begin to define their identities as readers in the classroom. Students discover favorite authors, favorite series, and favorite genres by discussing the books they read with their classmates and their teacher. Teachers typically use the Independent Reading time to individually confer or conduct informal reading inventories with students. It is during this time that word-attack and comprehension strategies are enforced and practiced so that students increasingly become more sophisticated readers.  


    Read Aloud

    In addition to picture book read-alouds used during the Reading Workshop, teachers always read from a chapter book at some point in the school day. While the chapter book selections sometimes relate to the current unit of study, other times teachers choose to read old favorites. Though relevant discussions often come out of this read-aloud time, the principal purpose is to boost motivation for, and a greater interest in, reading.   




    Second Grade Units of Study include:

    Reading:
    • Building a Community of Readers
    • Fiction: Comprehension Strategies
    • Character Study
    • Fiction: Theme
    • Nonfiction Reading Strategies
    • Biographies
    • Poetry
    • Cinderella Stories: A Comparative Seminar
    Writing:
    • Launching the Writing Workshop
    • Letter Writing
    • Small Moment Stories
    • Descriptive Writing
    • Nonfiction: All-About Books
    • Nonfiction: Writing Biographies
    • Poetry
    • Fiction: New Versions of Cinderella Stories
    • Persuasive Reviews
  • Grade 3

    Third Grade Narrative Scope & Sequence: Literacy


    In Third Grade, students build on the skills and strategies learned in Second Grade to expand their knowledge of reading and writing within a Balanced Literacy program. At every grade level, the content of the curriculum changes; however, the methodology and the delivery of the instruction remain the same. The structure for both Reading and Writing Workshop is as follows:

    Minilessons: Minilessons are focused and direct. They include one teaching point that is explicitly taught and then demonstrated. Children have an opportunity to explore and discuss the introduced strategy with their classmates before transferring it to their independent work.

    Independent Reading or Writing: Students have time to read or write independently as they explore the current genre of study. They are expected to try utilizing the skills and strategies taught in minilessons during their independent work times. The teacher uses independent times to confer with individual students.

    Partner/Teacher Conferences: Students have ample opportunities to meet with the teacher and their writing/reading partners to work on ways to improve their reading or writing. Sometimes these conferences are critiques meant to help the student make important changes. Other times, conferences are supportive in nature and help to boost motivation and confidence for reading and writing.

    In order to implement instruction for any given unit of study, teachers provide daily opportunities for students to be engaged in whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction, and independent practice. Following are descriptions of some of the components used throughout each unit of study:

    Word Study in Third Grade

    At the beginning of the year, teachers use the Spelling Inventory in Words Their Way to determine what children already know about letters and words. Organized by phonetic features (e.g., vowel teams, consonant blends) and systematized along a developmental continuum, this assessment allows teachers to then ascertain what individual students need to learn next. The teacher uses assessment results to arrange the students into 3-5 differentiated word study groups and, subsequently, begins meeting with these groups regularly to introduce new concepts. With any new sort, the teacher directly and explicitly demonstrates the concept for the students. Students then independently practice using their word study concept in a variety of weekly activities that remain consistent throughout the year. Students categorize words by concept, record concepts in word study notebooks, uncover additional words that fit the current concept, and test one another to ensure that the concept has been transferred to student writing before moving onto a new concept or skill.  

    In addition to Words Their Way, Third Grade teachers use Rebecca Sitton Spelling to introduce students to other types of language study. This program includes lessons, games, and activities using concepts such as idioms, homophones, contractions, and compound words. It also contains “No Excuse” lists at every grade level, which are essentially made up of high-frequency words that students should be able to read and write with automaticity. Teachers emphasize the importance of knowing these words by continually practicing to spell them.

    Small Group Work in Third Grade During Literacy Block

    A portion of the daily literacy block is spent in small-groups, where students have opportunities to practice reading, writing, handwriting, and spelling independently or with a partner. Students become familiar with the expectations within the Word Study and are able to follow a set of consistent procedures as new words are introduced each week.

    During the literacy block, teachers arrange small groups that are generally organized in such a way that each student has an opportunity to read alongside peers with similar reading habits. In reading groups, there is a shared focus between phonics and comprehension. The teacher uses small-group opportunities to focus on understanding the central ideas within the story. Reading groups are also a time where teachers share and discuss comprehension and word-attack strategies. Because some students have difficulty participating in whole-group settings, this smaller group time allows students a cozier atmosphere to take reading risks and to ask questions that will guide their understanding.

    Independent Reading

    During independent reading times, students select “just right” books from a variety of genres as they continue to define their identities as readers in the classroom. Students discover favorite authors, favorite series, and favorite genres by discussing the books they read with their classmates and their teacher. Teachers typically use the Independent Reading time to individually confer or conduct informal reading inventories with students. It is during this time that word-attack and comprehension strategies are enforced and practiced so that students increasingly become more sophisticated readers.  

    Chapter Book Read-Aloud

    In addition to picture book read-alouds used during the Reading Workshop, teachers often read from a chapter book at some point in the school day. While the chapter book selections sometimes relate to the current unit of study, other times teachers choose to read old favorites. Though relevant discussions often come out of this read-aloud time, the principal purpose is to boost motivation for, and a greater interest in, reading.   

    Literature Circles/Book Club

    Literature Circles provide students with opportunities to practice skills and strategies taught during Reading and Writing Workshop times in smaller group settings. Typically, groups are organized in the following fashion: The teacher begins by delivering brief introductions on five or six novels she has selected (typically books that have a common thread (e.g., animal stories, books about compassion, historical fiction)). The students have the chance to select the novel that most interests them and they are then grouped according to their book selections.

    Because many of the books used for Literature Circles are lengthy novels, students complete most of the reading at home. During the reading of the novel, students meet with their small groups periodically to discuss and complete assignments collaboratively. The work completed in Literature Circles directly relates to the work being done in whole-class settings, again allowing students an opportunity to practice skills with the support of a few classmates.


    Third Grade Units of Study include:

    Reading:
    • Building a Reading Life
    • Fictional Reading Strategies
    • Novel Study: Character Change
    • Nonfiction: Main Ideas and Details, Expository vs. Narrative Nonfiction
    • Novel Study: Character and Theme
    • Nonfiction: Independent Research (Owls)
    • Poetry
    Writing:
    • Building a Community of Writers
    • Personal Narratives
    • Nonfiction: Writing Expository Paragraphs
    • Response to Literature
    • Nonfiction: Independent Owl Reports
    • Poetry: Introduction to Poetic Elements
  • Grade 4

    Fourth Grade Narrative Scope & Sequence: Literacy

    In Fourth Grade, students build on the skills and strategies learned in Third Grade to expand their knowledge of reading and writing within a Balanced Literacy program. At every grade level, the content of the curriculum changes; however, the methodology and the delivery of the instruction remains the same. The structure for both Reading and Writing Workshop is as follows:

    Minilessons: Minilessons are focused and direct. They include one teaching point that is explicitly modeled and demonstrated. Children have an opportunity to explore and discuss the introduced strategy with their classmates before transferring it to their independent work.

    Independent Reading or Writing: Students have time to read or write independently as they explore each genre of study. They are expected to try utilizing the skills and strategies taught in minilessons during their independent work times. The teacher uses independent times to confer with individual students.

    Partner/Teacher Conferences: Students have ample opportunities to meet with the teacher and their writing/reading partners to work on ways to improve their reading or writing skills. Sometimes these conferences are critiques meant to help the student make important changes. Other times, conferences are supportive in nature and help to boost motivation and confidence for reading and writing.

    In order to implement instruction for any given unit of study, teachers provide daily opportunities for students to be engaged in whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction, and independent practice. Following are descriptions of some of the components used throughout each unit of study:

    Word Study in Fourth Grade

    At the beginning of the year, teachers use the spelling inventory in Words Their Way to determine what children already know about letters and words. Organized by phonetic features (e.g., vowel teams, consonant blends) and systematized along a developmental continuum, this assessment allows teachers to ascertain what individual students need to learn next. The teacher uses assessment results to arrange the students into 2-4 differentiated word study groups and, subsequently, begins meeting with these groups regularly to introduce new concepts. With any new sort, the teacher directly and explicitly demonstrates the concept for the students. Students then independently practice using their word study concept in a variety of weekly activities that remain consistent throughout the year. Students categorize words by concept, record concepts in word study notebooks, uncover additional words that fit the current concept, and test one another to ensure that the concept has been transferred to student writing before moving onto a new skill.  

    In addition to Words Their Way, Fourth Grade teachers use Rebecca Sitton Spelling to introduce students to other types of language study. This program includes lessons, games, and activities that explore such concepts as idioms, homophones, contractions, and compound words. It also contains “No Excuse” lists at every grade level, which are essentially made up of high-frequency words that students should be able to read and write with automaticity.

    Lastly, students in Fourth Grade participate in WordMasters, a national competition that encourages growth in vocabulary and verbal reasoning. This competition addresses higher-level word-comprehension and logical abilities by challenging students to solve analogies based on relationships among words. There are three WordMasters competitions each school year. With each rotation, WordMasters assigns 25 words for students to learn. In class, they study not only the definitions of these words, but also word relationships (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, cause & effect) by analyzing and constructing analogies with them.

    Literature Circles in Fourth Grade

    Literature Circles provide students with opportunities to practice skills and strategies taught during Reading and Writing Workshop times in smaller group settings. Typically, groups are organized in the following fashion: The teacher begins by delivering brief introductions on five or six novels she has selected (typically books that have a common thread (e.g., animal stories, books about compassion, historical fiction)). The students have the chance to select the novel that most interests them and they are then grouped according to their book selections.

    Because many of the books used for Literature Circles are lengthy novels, students complete some of the reading in class, while the rest is typically completed at home. During the reading of the novel, students meet with their small groups periodically to discuss and complete assignments collaboratively. The work completed in Literature Circles directly relates to the work being done in whole-class settings, again allowing students an opportunity to practice skills with the support of a few classmates.

    Independent Reading

    During independent reading times, students select appropriate books from a variety of genres as they continue to develop their identities as readers in the classroom. Students explore new authors, new series, and new genres by discussing the books they read with their classmates and their teacher. Teachers typically use the Independent Reading time to individually confer or conduct informal reading inventories with students. It is during this time that comprehension strategies are enforced and practiced.  


    Read Aloud

    Most, if not all, of the novels read aloud in Fourth Grade directly relate to the units of study across the year. As students respond to picture books and short stories, they also have opportunities to discuss and write about the novels they read together as a class. As in the lower grades, this read-aloud time offers the students an opportunity to enjoy listening to, and thinking about, stories.









    Fourth Grade Units of Study include:

    Reading:
    • Building a Community of Readers
    • Identifying Themes in Fiction
    • Nonfiction: Business Unit
    • Historical Fiction Novel Studies (character, exploring multiple themes)
    • Poetry
    Writing:
    • Launching the Writing Workshop
    • Personal Narrative
    • Response to Literature
    • Nonfiction: Inventions
    • Literary Essay: Analyzing Characters in Fiction
    • Poetry
  • Grade 5

    Fifth Grade Narrative Scope & Sequence: Literacy

    In Fifth Grade, students build on the skills and strategies learned in Fourth Grade to expand their knowledge of reading and writing within a Balanced Literacy program. At every grade level, the content of the curriculum changes; however, the methodology and the delivery of the instruction remain the same. The structure for both Reading and Writing Workshop is as follows:

    Minilessons: Minilessons are focused and direct. They include one teaching point that is explicitly modeled and demonstrated. Students have an opportunity to explore and discuss the introduced strategy with their classmates before transferring it to their independent work.

    Independent Reading or Writing: Students have time to independently explore each genre of study through reading or writing. They are expected to utilize the skills and strategies taught during minilessons in their independent work times as effectively as possible. The teacher uses independent times to confer with individual students.

    Partner/Teacher Conferences: Students have ample opportunities to meet with the teacher and their writing/reading partners to work on ways to improve their reading or writing skills. Sometimes these conferences are critiques meant to help the student make important changes. Other times, conferences are supportive in nature and help to boost motivation and confidence for reading and writing.

    In order to implement instruction for any given unit of study, teachers provide daily opportunities for students to be engaged in whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual instruction, and independent practice. Following are descriptions of some of the components used throughout each unit of study:

    Literature Circles in Fifth Grade

    Literature Circles provide students with opportunities to practice skills and strategies taught during Reading and Writing Workshop times in smaller group settings. Typically, groups are organized in the following fashion: The teacher begins by delivering brief introductions on five or six novels he or she has selected. The students have the chance to select the novel that most interests them and they are then grouped according to their book selections.

    Because many of the books used for Literature Circles are lengthy novels, students complete some of the reading in class, while the rest is typically completed at home. During the reading of the novel, students meet with their small groups periodically to discuss and complete assignments collaboratively. The work completed in Literature Circles directly relates to the work being done in whole-class settings, again allowing students an opportunity to practice skills with the support of a few classmates.

    Independent Reading

    During independent reading times, students select appropriate books from a variety of genres as they continue to develop their identities as readers in the classroom. Students explore new authors, new series, and new genres by discussing the books they read with their classmates and their teacher. Teachers typically use the Independent Reading time to individually confer or conduct informal reading inventories with students. It is during this time that comprehension strategies are enforced and practiced so that students increasingly become more sophisticated readers.  

    Novel Studies

    Each of the class novels read and discussed in Fifth Grade directly relates to the current unit of study. While students have opportunities to analyze sophisticated picture books and short stories, they also have the chance to discuss and write about the novels they are reading in class. Teachers use novel studies to model strategies and skills they want students to transfer to their personal reading experiences. As in the younger grades, novel studies also provide a chance for students to “get lost” in a book, as the classroom teacher often reads many sections of each novel aloud to the class.


    Fifth Grade Units of Study include:
     
    Reading:
    • Fiction: Theme (Conformity, Friensdhip and Trust)
    • Historical Fiction Novel Studies (Jamestown, American Revolution)
    • Nonfiction: Environmental Issues
    Writing:
    • Descriptive Writing
    • Response to Literature
    • Nonfiction: Expository Essay
    • Persuasive Essay
    • Creative Writing
Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.

Mission Hills Campus Lower School

4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103
 

Linda Vista Campus Middle/Upper School

6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111
858 / 569-7900